chapter  19
Pages 19

In the later first millennium BC, the center of power in the Mediterranean basin shifted westward to the city of Rome. Rome was established as a permanent settlement during the early Iron Age, but several centuries passed before this village grew to regional and international prominence. As it developed, the Roman state borrowed from, then conquered, two urban cultures well established on the Italian peninsula beginning in the early Iron Age, the Greek (in south Italy and on Sicily) and the Etruscan (centered in Etruria, largely modern Tuscany, north of Rome). Other cultures encountered and absorbed would exert less tangible influence: Phoenician settlements in western Sicily, Sardinia, coastal Spain, and North Africa, of which the greatest was the city of Carthage near modern Tunis (see Chapter 11); and several rural, regional cultures in Italy and Sicily. Before we turn to Rome itself, let us examine the urban achievements of the first mentioned, the western Greeks and the Etruscans, keeping in mind their place in the culture history of the Mediterranean basin and their legacy to the Romans (Figure 19.1).